Kraft and Skilton: Stand for equality

Late in the night of Nov. 4, 2008, millions of Americans went to bed ecstatic at the election of their first black president.

Early in the morning of Nov. 5, 2008, hundreds of thousands of Californians woke up to discover that they had lost a fundamental human right — the right to marry the person they loved because the person they loved was of the same sex.

When the people of Maine wake up on Nov. 4 of this year, some of them may have something similar to mourn: the passage of Question 1, New England’s version of California’s Proposition 8.

As far as marriage goes, Maine and California are kindred spirits. Early this summer, Maine’s legislature voted for marriage equality. Immediately after the state’s governor signed the bill into law, groups — the same ones, like the National Organization for Marriage, that opposed marriage equality in California — began to gather signatures to back a “people’s veto” of the legislation. September saw their initiative, Question 1, gain a place on the ballot. Maine voters will decide the fate of equality Nov. 3.

The Stand for Marriage campaign in favor of Question 1 is almost an exact replica of last year’s Yes on 8. The effort is funded by the same institutions that supported Prop 8; many of the individuals and companies who worked on Yes on 8 have joined. The campaign advertisements rely on the same, tired misinformation that Yes on 8 pushed on Californians, and they quote the same so-called authorities.

At this time last year, Yes on 8 was down by 17 points. But proponents of the measure closed that enormous gap with a last-minute push in the weeks and days before the election. The Yes on 1 campaign is similarly the underdog, but those working to pass Question 1 know the strategies that won California and they are more than willing to use them.

Yale for Maine Equality is working to make sure they don’t succeed. Though most of us cannot vote in Maine, we can encourage voters — through phone banking and efforts on the ground, to take a stand for equality — by voting no on Question 1. Mainers have civil equality now. It’s our job to help them keep it.

Kate Fraft is a senior in Silliman College and Amalia Skilton is a freshman in Calhoun College. They are Co-Presidents of Yale for Maine Equality.